Minnesota Vikings fans, by and large, adore Teddy Bridgewater. He was chosen by the Vikings 32nd overall in 2014, quickly endearing himself to fans, teammates, and coaches alike through both his charm and ability on the field. True, Bridgewater isn’t the most talented quarterback in the NFL, but he nevertheless possesses an it-factor that many players don’t have. Put simply, Bridgewater is a winner. While it is fair to spend a few moments reminiscing about Bridgewater’s time as a Viking, it’s imperative for the Minnesota Vikings to keep their focus on the playoff push.
The Minnesota Vikings Playoff Push
Were it not for a crazy knee injury, Bridgewater would likely still be wearing purple. The injury happened, though, and the Vikings responded by bringing in several different quarterbacks, eventually settling on Kirk Cousins as their franchise QB.
Mike Zimmer and Teddy Bridgewater echoed the same statement: "Rooting for him in 15 games, just not when we play them." pic.twitter.com/7JVzduc7DS
— SKOR North (@SKORNorth) November 25, 2020
During their press conferences, Vikings players and coaches were asked about their relationship with Bridgewater. Kyle Rudolph said that Bridgewater “has to be the most likeable player that we’ve had in the locker room.” Dalvin Cook reflected on his own recovery from a torn ACL and how Bridgewater offered encouragement: “I could be going through some pain in the training room, trying to get my extension back, trying to get my range of motion back, and he’d make me laugh through it.” Mike Zimmer, for his part, revealed that it was Bridgewater’s resilience that contributed to his charm: “Everybody gravitates towards him. Nothing really phases him, just goes about his business.”
It’s fair for Vikings players and coaches to reflect on their time playing with Bridgewater. For a few years, it appeared as though Bridgewater would be the franchise quarterback for a team that has long been starved for stability at quarterback. That being said, it’s imperative for the Vikings to ensure they’re making life very difficult for Bridgewater this week. Indeed, if they are going to resurrect their near-lifeless season, the Vikings must have a strong performance on Sunday.
The defense needs to respond on Sunday. Christian McCaffrey is unable to go, which definitely makes life easier. Nevertheless, the Carolina Panthers still have plenty of weapons. Their receivers – D.J. Moore, Robby Anderson, and Curtis Samuel – are among the most underrated receiver groups in the NFL. Pro Football Focus ranks all three in the NFL’s top fifty wide receivers. Minnesota will need to be sharp, especially in the secondary.
Throw the ball to D.J. Moore and good things happen pic.twitter.com/r8ysaeQuEr
— Ian Hartitz (@Ihartitz) November 18, 2020
The simplest way to slow down elite receivers rests in getting after the quarterback. Bridgewater is having a solid season. He is completing 72.1% of his passes and averaging just over 250 yards per game. His 13-7 TD/INT ratio is certainly underwhelming, but the Vikings and their fans shouldn’t overlook Teddy. He is a competitor, one who is capable of making big-time plays in clutch moments. As a result, Zimmer will need to develop a strong game plan, one that involves plenty of coverage disguise and blitzes to try to make Bridgewater uncomfortable.
At 4-6, the Minnesota Vikings are somehow still making a playoff push. Another loss, though, would almost certainly bring their chances to an end. The key, then, involves continuing to play well on offense as Zimmer simultaneously tries to get strong outings from the defense and special teams. If they can get a full-team effort, then Minnesota is capable of beating the Panthers on Sunday.
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